Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bones Episode Review: 1.04 "The Man on Death Row"

I did it! Let's forget I'm about 4 promises behind on when I'd do the next review and let us definitely not talk about how fast the summer has gone and how few hash marks I've put on the episode list...let us, ahem, focus on the "I did it!" And yeah, let's hope it's good =)

Just a reminder: I prefer "written" to "aired" order so this may seem out of place as the next episode but...oh well!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Seriously, what's not to like about this episode? We have the best multi-episode villain in Epps, we have one of the funniest Booth/Brennan scenes at the start, we have brief Sid and fantastic Cullen (I still heart him!), and Angela, Hodgins and Zack are all in top form.

Oh, well, in honesty, I do have a few dislikes. Let's not dwell, but I must point them out:
*I do not like the screen timer. It may be picky but it just annoys me. We know time is short. Stop putting it in our faces!
*The Law and Order feel. I don't want any lawyer but Caroline Julian getting this much face time. Ditto for any Judge but Colonel Sandurz, err, Marcus Haddoes).
*The CSI aspects: each CSI franchise has a particular color feel. Anyone else feel overwhelmed by blue in this episode? Blue eyes on Brennan, Hodgins, Amy, the Judge. Blue coats. Blue lab. Blue interrogation room. Even blue graphics! Also...I find myself really having to suspend my disbelief on some of the time frames. They get a body exhumed and to the lab in 3 or so hours? Boo.
*On-going beef with the show: the handling of evidence. Carefully digging and brushing aside dirt only to immediately pull out the skull without noting any positioning or anything? Sigh. Great shot, but...
And just a pout...I WANT MY GOODMAN! The man only got a season, was it too much to ask to have him in each episode?

Alright, on to the good stuff!

This is the first episode, of 3, where we see Howard Epps. He makes a fantastic villain, especially once you know he's bad. Unfortunately, I saw his episodes out of order, so I already knew. Surprise ruined! But I still like him. Brennan's later description of "creepy serial killer hands" fits perfectly. The man is manipulative, slimy, creepy, and purely evil. Anyone else want to flip Gormogon to 3 episodes and Epps to a full season arc? I think I heard a few Amens?

We can never get enough Sid. His appearance in this episode is far too brief but as usual, it stands out. Ever the philosopher, he balances the end of the story well and provides great perspective (and humor) for both Booth and Brennan and the audience. "Don't argue with Sid" indeed!
Sid: What's the matter with you two?
Booth: Bad day at work.
Sid: Well that's what you get for working on weekends. You ever hear about taking some time off? Having a little fun?
Brennan: Why? What do you do?
Sid: I'd be breakin' about 6 different laws if I just told you how I maneuvered on my Saturday nights.
And of course, Cullen. Another character with too-brief a run. I want him back. Anyone else willing to join the fan campaign? They're already trying to "Save" Dollhouse. It's not that far out. No? Aww, alright. I will forever rate him as my favorite recurring character. He even beats out Caroline. I love that he provides accountability to Booth. I love his dislike of Brennan. I love his perfect lines like, "If she shoots anybody this time I sure to hell hope it's you." Brilliant character all around.

Angela's charm is in her unpredictability and gets too little screentime now a days. Back in Season 1 she got to do fun things like find guys who are "cuter than a monkey on a puppy" and try to goad Brennan into living a little. Now she's usually wrapped around Hodgins and Booth has almost completely subverted her influence on Brennan.

The girl needs more fun stories now. She gets to show off all her good parts in this episode. She gets a date, she plays with the Angelator, she has a brief heart to heart with Brennan and she gets to make fun of Hodgins and Zack. I love her superiority toward the guys: "I'm going to go have sex."

Some people look at certain scenes, like the whistle from Booth in this episode, and think that Angela and Booth have a bit of an attraction thing going on. I see it differently. I think these two recognize themselves in each other and that includes their own frank admission of how hot they, themselves, are. They are completely comfortable with each other but not in any way attracted. Even though they aren't that close, they have that quality present in deep and abiding friendships. I would call it simply "being comfortable."

Hodgins is brilliant here. His constant stream of torture trivia tidbits at the start are odd and disturbing, but of course perfect for him. He even gets a bit of his conspiracy hat and how great is the scene with Troy? I love his joy over the maggots. Is it the maggots, is it being the rebel and discomfiting Troy, is it knowing it will piss of Angela? Who knows. Probably all of the above.

As always, the Hodgins and Zack interactions are wonderful! Beetle racing?
Hodgins: What if they get mixed up?
Zack: I can tell them apart. That's Jeff and that's Olley. (sp?) I win!
Hodgins: What? That one was mine.
Zack: You had Jeff. I had Olley. Olley won. You owe me a buck.
...Hodgins: I demand another beetle. Jeff's got a groin pull.
Zack: Arthropods do not posses groins. Pay up.
(Booth trapping Hodgins beetle completes it perfectly.)

The paper-rock-scissors and the lines to Zack such as "it's not quite so idiot savant", "Zack, when you talk that fast human beings can't hear you." and of course "You're the one with the photographic memory. I'm the one who's good with the ladies," are fantastic. I try not to focus on the Zack-lash too much (script, what script?), but it's hard to watch Season 1 and not think of what will be missed between these two now.

Zack is the mix of boy who can't stand alone and genius who can defeat any foe, human or intellectual. It's very well paired in this episode when we see him figure out the number sequence, but knowing he needed a driver to get there.

And then we have Booth and Brennan. The scene that begins this episode is one of my favorite Booth and Brennan scenes in the entire series. It's wonderfully played by Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. It's brilliantly funny. The shock of realizing that he arrested her tips it and watching it in the written order, which puts closer to the Pilot than the aired order improves the humor simply for that reason. (Aired it was episode 7 in the season, written it's episode 4.)

Beyond the funny, that scene highlights a never ending conflict between Booth and Brennan. He wants to protect her. She wants to prove she doesn't need anyone else and can be everything herself. It's a conflict even spelled out directly by Gordon Gordon in Season 2. She sees it as weakness to need anyone but Booth is adamant about protecting anyone. And he wins the battle, essentially. Even later, when she secures her own gun, he's still protecting her to the point that he gives her the superior gun in "Mummy in the Maze" when it's needed. He protects her in the life threatening situations and right on down to the conflict situations. Notice how he curls around her when they talk with Cullen? It's ingrained in Booth. She may not want the protection, but she's got it.

This episode is heavily about trust. Can he trust her to help with the case? Can she trust him as the sole gun carrier? Can they trust each other's judgments? Can they work together well enough to make decisions about case actions?

They are continuing to set boundaries. He comes to her for help, but only wants her to know the full details. She immediately reciprocates that she's only doing it for him. That's a huge step for her and a frank admission of acceptance of the partnership. But she's not completely his unthinking follower. They push each other at multiple steps along the way. She asks if they should stop "before these anomalies become meaningful" and at the end he effectively asks her if he should let Howard Epps die. I think her first offer of stopping is completely out of character. But her answer at the end, that "these women deserve to be heard" is 100% honest Brennan.

Booth is confronted head on in this episode. Brennan challenges his protector nature. Amy challenges his work. Epps challenges his sniper past. Brennan challenges his fidelity (which is probably the most hurtful.) Booth is not the type who is cocky in the way that he believes he's never wrong. Everything he does is analyzed and collected. Guilt and the question of "am I doing things right?" are always with him.

Quick note for Booth: "What's that mean?" is totally his version of "I don't know what that means." Everyone latches onto Brennan's line, but both are important! He's trying to enter her world just as much as she's colliding with his.

This episode isn't as hard on Brennan. She's a bit hurt by Booth characterizing her as having a "mania for the truth" but it's not lasting. She does have that mania and she knows it, even if she doesn't like the exact wording. This episode is heavily about how Brennan connects with victims and with people. She's strongly affected by the genocide in Rwanda, enough that she's adamantly in support of capital punishment. And at the end she tells of how she's connected to every single death. She may have obvious problems relating to the living (as with the digging conversation where she unfairly characterizes and then antagonizes Booth) but she understands the dead well. I feel sometimes like we need a bit of a reminder of her deep connection in current episodes. She's progressing with the living but it's still easy to see her as cold at times.

It's one thing for Angela to push Brennan toward Booth. She has mixed motivations of support for Brennan, frank appreciation for Booth, and her ability to see what should be. But it's another for a complete stranger to pick up a "sex vibe" between Brennan and Booth. Amy is the first of a long line of people who will make them uncomfortable. Brennan shoots her down then immediately shows her sensitivity to Booth's opinion. Ummhmm...

Something I noticed: seat positioning. Their end of episode talks are already vital and have already shown how close they are but I noticed that while they sit side by side now, at this point they still put a seat between them.

However, they definitely are beginning to work like partners. They communicate privately, even when in a crowded room, as in the judge's kitchen. I love his look in the mirror when she defends the death penalty. He's proud of her. They still are very much oil and water, but they are beginning to mix just a little. At the end of the episode they are a team.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Booth: Name of the arresting officer?
Brennan: You. Special Agent Seeley Booth. Do you need me to spell that for you?
Booth: I can sound that out.

Brennan: What if you're injured or dead and someone still needs shooting? I'm not hoping it will happen, just stating a possibility.

Booth: If it's all the same, I'd prefer you two didn't bond in any way.

Booth: Angela, lookin' good!
Angela: And don't I know it!

Hodgins: What's break time at the F.B.I.? Book burning?

Brennan: So, I guess we're not pursuing your lawyer obsession?

Brennan: Let's pretend we're objective scientists and not indulge in conjecture.

Hodgins: He's weird, but he's smart.

Brennan: It's me. I'm with Amy.
Booth: I don't like the sound of that.

Brennan: Zack decoded the phone number.
Booth: Who decodes phone numbers?

Amy: I'm picking up a bit of a sex vibe.
Brennan: No, that's tension.

Cullen: Got the squints involved. Well, if she shoots anybody this time, I sure the hell hope it's you.

Troy: You're not an artist. You're a freak. You people are all freaks.
Angela: This job is so hard to describe on-line.

Judge: You, brilliant scientist lady...

Brennan: The facts have to add up.

Angela: Troy would've liked that. Bastard.

Cullen: Way out on a limb here, Booth.

Cullen: She can't have a gun.
Booth: No gun. Absolutely not.
Brennan: Why not?

Brennan: I haven't slept in 48 hours and you're worried about your suit? Get over here.

Booth: I have never ever cheated on any woman that I've ever been with. Never.

Brennan: You going to arrest me for assault?
Booth: From what I saw, purely self-defense.
Brennan: Maybe I shouldn't carry a gun afterall.
Booth: Hell, you can have mine.

Booth: You've been practicing your Nobel Prize speech just a little too much.

Sid: To simple pleasures my friends. Simple pleasures.


heirofloki said...

Wonderful. I won't mention any of the unmentionable things you asked not to be mention, but I do have a couple of comments on the review:


You know? I like this episode, I really do. And I'm all for serial killers (fictional not real. That would be weird. And creepy) But there was something about the character that somehow never managed to freak me out the way I think it was supposed to. The way the show was telling me to be freaked out. It just...didn't work. Eh, it's probably just me; just throwing it out there.

CSI Connection:

I had not noticed the blue, excellent catch! I have to say, though, the CSI connection comes to me from a different angle. I don't know if you watch CSI, but I know, I'm certain that the original had an episode where this guy who's been accused of killing his family calls up Grissom to help him prove his innocence. I don't know the season (early one, I haven't watched that show in ages), or the ep. title, but I remember snippets from it (oddly enough) and every time I even think of tMoDR my brain goes straight back to CSI. Granted here the guy was guilty -unlike CSI- but, I don't know, I can't seem to stop making that connection.

BB Dynamic:

Love you insight into their relationship here. No comment there. On a slightly unrelated note however, the lawyer that calls Brennan on her "Tension" with Booth: her car scene reminded me of tMitM and Brennan's woman-to-woman conversation with April. I don't know if it's intentional or if it's just me, but in the first season, when Brennan declares that she does not find Booth hot at all, it's pretty believable. We're not supposed to believe her, I know, the whole scene is set up around that. But ED's delivery is so matter of fact, you can almost buy it. In tMitM however, when she tells April "we're not blue-fish" her demeanor is all awkwardness, amusement and apprehension. I know the situations are vastly different and like I said, maybe it's just me, but being a late new-comer to this show (thank you writer's strike!) I never fail to be amazed at how close this couple has become in the past couple of seasons, not just in the eyes of the viewers but in the eyes of the characters as well.

Oh, and before I forget. I definitely join the campaign to bring back Admiral Chedwiggen, I mean, Cullen. And Goodman. I miss both of them as well.

That's it. Sorry for the wordiness. And I don't know if this makes you feel a little better, but I had to put down my book as well to rewatch the episode after reading your review, so I guess TV Bones is messing with both our reading habits. =P

Thanks for taking the time to post this. Enjoy your reading!

jeannie55 said...

Yay, you did it! ;-)Thanks!
Off to rewatch the episode now before I post anything.

CupcakeBean said...

Good job on your latest review! I know they take a lot of time. I'm looking forward to your reviews on some of my favorite episodes. No pressure... More, more, more! :)

Mella said...

I just discovered this blog and I love the reviews. There are so many "this happened and then that happened" reviews out there and yours are different. I like all your interpretations

Anonymous said...

I love your reviews. I know they are a lot of work, but they always make me think about the episodes in a new way. so thanks. looking forward to more when you have the time.

Mom2ABnTB said...

I loved this review! And I loved this episode! Great job!

Rebecca said...

thanks for taking the time to write such thoughtful and insightful reviews!

jeannie55 said...

Every time I do a re-watch of Season 1 I actually skip this episode because early Epps seriously freaks me out. Every. Single. Time.
Also, for some reason I was ok with this one being shown later on and not in written order. Booth coming to Bones and asking for a personal favor? That's a huge step in their relationship. Given that Men in the Bear is next (where they go back to their bickering of early S1) I feel that there is too much bonding over the case in Man on Death Row to be the fourth episode. After the first three episodes there aren't quite there yet in my opinion. Why do I get the feeling I'm not explaining this very well?

Christina in Actuality said...

Um, I don't if this matters, but under your dislikes, you said, "*The Law and Order feel. I don't want any lawyer but Caroline Epps getting this much face time. Ditto for any Judge but Colonel Sandurz, err, Marcus Haddoes)."

Did you mean Caroline Julian?

Wendy said...

You are absolutely right - great catch and welcome to OWB!

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